First Presbyterian Church to play host to concert
Published 10:19 am Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, a choir was started in Vicksburg. It was named the Vicksburg Chamber Choir and was comprised of non-professional vocalists.
The men and women who audition for the group were just adults who enjoy singing, choral director Sharon Penley said.
The choir is still going strong, and on Dec. 13 the group will present their 25th anniversary concert —Silver Christmas.
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The idea to create a local choral group was set in motion by former Crawford Street United Methodist Church minister of music Ray Fountain, choir member Jim Hess said.
Hess, who, like Penley is an original member of the choir, said Fountain came to him to see if he would be interested in starting the group.
“Ray knew the amount of talent in the city,” Hess said, and he also thought Dick Brown should serve as the choral director.
Brown was a teacher at All Saints’ Episcopal School, and had formerly served as the long-time conductor for the Jackson Choral Society, Penley said.
Hess said Brown agreed to lead the group and word was than circulated to groups in town that auditions would be held for the newly organized choir.
The Vicksburg Chamber Choir no longer holds auditions, Penley said, but the choir is comprised of dedicated individuals.
“My singers rarely miss a rehearsal,” Penley said, and noted that those who are involved with the choir enjoy spending one hour of their week doing something they love in addition to their “day jobs.”
“It is a time they can let loose of everything,” Penley said, comparing practices to exercising.
“I will see the choir members come dragging in, but after practice everyone seems to leave energized,” she said.
Hess said he has enjoyed being a member of the group for the past 25 years.
“It’s always been a good experience to sing with other choir member in the community,” he said.
The Silver Christmas anniversary concert is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 1501 Cherry St., and the performance will include music by a variety of composers, Hess said, including “And the Glory of the Lord” from Handel’s Messiah.
“Sharon picked this song because it was a favorite piece from a former pastor,” he said.
In addition to the Handel piece, the choir will also perform arrangements of traditional carols, Appalachian carols and Renaissance music.
“All the music is sacred and acoustic — sung in four, six and eight-part harmonies,” Penley said.
First Presbyterian organist Barbara Tracy will accompany the choir.
Other musicians will include Bennett Randman on cello, Nick Black on violin and Mary Claire Allison on flute.
The concert is free, but donations are encouraged.